Anger and Grace

“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…” — James 1:19

I always felt that I inherited a number of traits from my parents. I got my wit, humor, and perseverance from my mother. I got my intellect and athletic ability from my father. But at the same time, I also got my father’s forgetfulness and insensitivity. And from my mother… Her short-temper and anger.

A lot of the time, my anger isn’t justified. In soccer, sometimes, you can see my temper start to rise when I start screwing up, maybe missing a prime shot at goal or seeing the team’s defense crumble at the hands of a weak offense. Away from the field, there’s usually three things that might spark the fuse: (1) making a very insensitive joke about my late mother or (2) making fun of my efforts and heart in the things I put a lot of time and effort into (i.e. soccer, stuff with the church) or (3) my faith. I’ve tried to make a genuine effort to keep my head on with a lot of things. Not to be prideful, my temper has been a lot better than years ago. If someone tried to tick me off, I probably would have set aside my well-being and punched the individual in the face. Now, the most I’d even consider doing is mutter something under my breath or just avoid talking to the person for a while.

Then came a few weeks ago… I went to a party one night a few weeks ago. A lot of people I knew and a great opportunity to hang out with them, as everyone’s been busy with work, school, or other obligations. For myself, I had spent so much time working with the SYTE and the youth and other ministries at Lighthouse, along with preparing for graduate school, and other things, that I didn’t have the opportunity to catch up with people. So this seemed like the perfect opportunity to do so.

The night went on, watching the Sounders pull off a tie in their match, people started drinking a little more, and I just continued to hang out with them, despite people’s inebriation. Then someone pulled out a game that was much like of Taboo. People started using clues and descriptions to help others guess what the term on the machine was. That’s when things started to go bad… As we were playing, someone thought it would be funny to say “Ed is this on our team.” One of the guys replied, “The weakest link!” laughing his heart out. It turned out to be the correct answer to the term that they were looking for. It became a snowballing effect from there, with people

I was shellshocked. This goes into that second category of things that will blow Ed’s fuse: making fun of my effort and heart in the thing I put a lot of energy into. I honestly wanted to go on a frenzy and just take out those three individuals in that room. It was more frustrating in that one of the individuals was someone I had trusted and confided as a good friend. I could have cared less if I walked out alive after doing that. Although my mind was left fuming, my heart held me back from doing something utterly stupid. The night went on and I was gradually getting more and more upset at all of them, especially that “good” friend of mine. I was pretty shakened by the whole scenario to the point where I just left the party without saying a word except saying thanks to the host.

Those thoughts of beating the snot out of my friend and the other two went through my head throughout the rest of the night. But I started to feel held back more and more from those thoughts. I started to receive calls from people from the party the next day, but I chose to ignore them, still restless and angered from all the events that happened.

Then I was reminded about grace. Maybe it was from my friend’s example from a book about not wanting to be judged on by the worst days of their life. Or maybe it was the fact that I’ve screwed up numerous times that I shouldn’t be deserving of grace, but for some reason, I have received it. I don’t know what prompted it, but the thought kept going through my head. If it were not for grace, none of us wouldn’t be here today. I tried to resist it, but I couldn’t overcome the idea of grace. My urges were to never forgive that friend again. They didn’t deserve any grace in my books for the words that they said. But when they called for the tenth time, I gave in and picked up the phone.

The discussion didn’t feel like it went anywhere. My anger was still present, but it wasn’t an infuriating temper that many people are accustomed to. It was more of calm and level-headed response. I told them the reason for my anger. Excuses came out, but I wasn’t accepting them (as we are responsible for the decisions we make). An apology was made, but at the time, I questioned the genuineness of it. I followed up with the typical responses that I have when I’m anger. “Alright… Whatever… Fine… Alright… I’ll think about it…”

Although that apology was made, it still does hurt a bit to know that someone who knew how much heart and energy would be a part of taking a shot at me in such a manner. I haven’t said to them directly that I had forgiven them, but I had done so. But I think about whether it was just all them or was it a bit of me as well for all this. Maybe this was my pride sneaking into all of this and trying to find a way to interfere. I’m not sure.

In this world, I’m told that I shouldn’t forgive that friend and I had every right to not do so. When you entrust someone as someone that would cover your back to only find out later that they would backstab you, society says that you should leave them to the curb and move on without them. It seems so much easier to just be angry at the person, as it might seem easier to be at peace with that. But grace says otherwise. Grace says that we should be forgiving and looking for every opportunity to mend that relationship, even if you were the victim of such an act, whether it be of abusive words or something far, far worse. If an individual can somehow show grace and love to a murderer of their loved one, how could I not forgive someone for saying a few words? All I can say I is I still have some of those lingering feelings that I shouldn’t have forgiven them. Second thoughts if you want to call it that. But there’s that part of me that says that if I didn’t, I shouldn’t deserve forgiveness for anything I’ve done, whether past, present, or future. It does bug me still to have to forgive them… but only a little now.

Have things been worked out? Not really. But then again, Rome wasn’t built in a day. While I’ve forgiven them, my trust and friendship with them still remains shakened. It’ll take a lot of time and effort to rebuild anything even close to what it was before.

… But if it wasn’t for how amazing grace really is, I probably wouldn’t have written or even thought about writing this post in the first place.

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” — Ephesians 2:1-5

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